Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

By Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

Obviously the most famous Manson book published, it has sold over 7 million copies, making it the best-selling True-Crime book of all time. Written by prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi with author Curt Gentry, Helter Skelter provides the reader with a front row seat for both the investigation and trial. In exhaustive fashion, Bugliosi reveals the details of the Manson family, the Helter Skelter motive, and the nightmarish murders themselves. A must read.

Book Description: A national bestseller — over 7 million copies sold. “[A] social document of rare importance.” — The New Republic

Prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, Vincent Bugliosi held a unique insider’s position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the twentieth century: the cold-blooded Tate-LaBianca murders carried out by Charles Manson and four of his followers. What motivated Manson in his seemingly mindless selection of victims, and what was his hold over the young women who obeyed his orders? Here is the gripping story of this famous and haunting crime.

Both Helter Skelter and Vincent Bugliosi’s subsequent Till Death Us Do Part won Edgar Allan Poe Awards for best true-crime book of the year. 50 pages of black-and-white photographs

Pages: 689

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Older Edition edition (December 2001)

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12 Responses to Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

  1. Lori says:

    Absolutely the best book on the subject. A lot of these so-called “experts”, and bloggers love to discount Bugliosi. I am not one of them. He did what he had to do to get these monsters behind bars so they wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Actually, this is the first book everyone should read on the subject. Lots of details, but photos are very old, and sometimes hard to see.

  2. Catherine says:

    Bugliolsi’s book is a must read. He really nails down how crazy these people are, and I believe the book is as close to the truth about Charles Manson as you, the reader, are going to get. I do believe that despite Manson’s influence, the killers knew the difference between right and wrong and should be held accountable for their actions, and should NEVER be granted parole.

  3. Fred Bloggs says:

    While the book is definitely the “go to” book on the case and a fantastic tome, I have felt for close to 30 years that it needs to be read alongside some of the others on the subject, if only from a balance point of view. Actually, in some ways, reading other books with an opposing point of view actually forces one to look at Bugliosi’s schtick all the more closely and I’ve found that while certain elements can be discounted or at the very least questioned and doubted, overall his position is strengthened.

  4. Fayez Abedaziz says:

    While some believed in that Helter Skelter weirdness, Tex did, the crimes were going to happen anyway, because Charlie wanted revenge and money from those he felt wronged by
    and Gary Hinman was killed for money, it was a robbery.
    It all started with violence: Crowe to Hinman to Tate-Labianca-Shea.
    Tex was sent to kill as Manson sent him to. That’s all Tex needed and he said that in his book, quite basically.
    Bugliosi stretched the truth and had dishonest witnesses that saved themselves when the crap hit the fan and they were making money from that.
    They did not come forward before when they knew about the crimes, including the murder of Shea. Linda Drouin Kasabian also stretched things and lied. Look at how happy she looked throughout, and the Prosecution was taking her to dinners.
    She was guilty of conspiracy and aiding in murders, factually, that is.but she was given total immunity.
    At least a third of this book is bull.
    And this book is not important in finding what was at Spahn, all you need is the pictures from that ranch and the books by Tex, Paul Watkins and Susan Atkins.
    And what Lynette and others have stated over the years.

  5. Fred Bloggs says:

    Ha ha, not biased then, Fayez ?

  6. Fayez Abedaziz says:

    Hi Fred,

    I think that you have a valid point there, and I appreciate that you seem to have a sense of humor.
    I have a bias which kinda formed slowly, after several years when I found that Sadie was Susan Atkins. Because I was with her, before in July ’69 and I liked her.
    At first it was a surprise that turned into a sort of shock when my eyes and yeah, my head ‘squinted’ as I looked at her pictures and thought…Sadie…what the…
    well, Fred, then I began to study the case and, not to go on too much about what I found and felt, but…
    I saw that Susan did not kill anyone though she was an accessory and should have been charged with that and, so to serve, say, 18 to 30 years. (as the vast majority in California are, for one and two murders.)
    So, she was charged and convicted for murders at Waverly and dear Linda was not.
    Yes, Linda was a DA witness, I know.
    Anyhoo, Susan allowed herself to go down when, unlike ‘scramblehead’ Clem Grogan (brother Charlies word for Grogan) she killed no one by her hand . Grogan murdered Shea with the other thugs at Spahn Ranch and served less than 20 years didn’t he.
    And I thought Bugliosi played on fear and bias against ‘hip’people and he at times, lied.
    dear Fayez

    • Law and Order says:

      Brother Charlie? Really? Wonder if you’re really that nut spaced out whack job squeaky fromme? If not you need to seek serious help. You seem to be a concern for your self and others in your community. If anyone can call a sociopath murderer brother they need to be institutionalized.

  7. Law and Order says:

    What is disturbing and obscene is the comments from these serial killer groupies. Charles Manson, Charles Watson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Houghton, Pat Krenwinkle were all violent sociopathic, psychotic, warped individuals.
    They broke into a home and killed mercilessly, brutally, gruesomely 7 people. These people aren’t misunderstood or worthy of sympathy. During their trial, while they were incarcerated, away from drug use, these people mocked, sneered, giggled, and were disruptive. They had no compassion and concern for their victims.
    Today, there is no more laughing. Watson, Houghton, and Krenwinkle all plead and cry and beg to be released. They were sentenced to death and judicial leftist activists briefly overturned the death penalty thus allowing these killers to escape true justice. The spaced out groupies espousing the virtues of killers need to shut their mouth and go back to whatever off the wall place they came up with these insane promotions of violent sociopaths.

  8. Fred Bloggs says:

    Fayez Abedaziz says:

    I have a bias which kinda formed slowly, after several years when I found that Sadie was Susan Atkins. Because I was with her, before in July ’69 and I liked her

    What do you mean by “I was with her, before in July ’69” ? Do you mean you hung around Spahn Ranch ?

    I saw that Susan did not kill anyone

    Well, funnily enough, despite thinking of her as the lowest of the low, the book “Helter Skelter” kind of makes the case that she didn’t kill anyone by her own hand. However, that is not what Bugliosi was saying during the trial. He was of the opinion that Susan attacked Wojiciech Frykowski but because of “Aranda” problems, couldn’t get this in through his witness Ronnie Howard, that she said she had stabbed him as he ran past her.
    You might also want to study this excellent thread on whether or not Susan remained death free on either of those nights. At the very least it’s a major eye opener.

    she was an accessory and should have been charged with that

    Actually, she was way more than an accessory ~ and don’t forget, she was charged with conspiracy to murder, a very important detail.

    So, she was charged and convicted for murders at Waverly and dear Linda was not

    That’s partly because the two nights were seen as one conspiracy so even though she didn’t set foot in the Waverly house, Susan was part of the conspiracy that took in both Cielo and Waverly.
    Linda was charged with the same stuff as Susan and while it’s debatable whether or not she would have been found guilty because the prosecution had such a weak case against her, the overarching reality is that Linda primarily walked because Susan signed papers that said she’d lied to the grand jury and in doing so, killed the deal she had with the DA’s office. It was her own fault.
    To Linda’s advantage was a]she hadn’t actually stabbed or killed or held anyone and b]she knew a good offer when she saw one. Bugliosi told Laurence Merrick, Robert Hendrickson and Joan Huntington that Linda was guilty.

    Yes, Linda was a DA witness, I know

    Susan had had that opportunity, threw it away. Leslie had had that opportunity and threw it away. Linda wasn’t throwing anything away !

    she killed no one by her hand

    Susan had told 3 people {Nancy Jordon, Virginia Graham and Ronnie Howard} that she’d stabbed Sharon Tate. Her confession news story had gone right around the world. Then she said she lied to the grand jury and in the grand jury testimony, she only admitted to stabbing Frykowski in the legs. She said nothing about any other stabbings but if what she told the GJ was a lie then that opened up a can of worms for her. On top of that, during the penalty phase of her trial, she told the jury that she’d killed Sharon Tate.
    Let’s just say that Susan didn’t do herself any favours.

    I thought Bugliosi played on fear and bias against ‘hip’people

    If anything, he did the opposite by having Linda as his star witness and having witnesses like Gregg Jakobson, Stephanie Schram, Paul Watkins, Barbara Hoyt, Brooks Poston, Rudi Altobelli, Terry Melcher, Sharokh Hatami and Juan Flynn. It was in actual fact the Family members like Gypsy, Sandy, Squeaky, Cappy, Clem, Brenda and Mary plus Charlie attacking the judge in front of the jury and constantly interrupting and disrupting, along with Leslie, Susan and Pat, that reinforced any bias against young and ‘hip’ people that may have been there or was not there in the first place but may well have appeared by the trial’s end. If you get a chance to read the trial transcripts {if you haven’t already}, you’ll see pretty clearly that the Family were indeed the authors of their own downfall.

    and he at times, lied

    Lots of commentators say this. But they never say how or back it up with any evidence. So I ask you, how excatly did he lie ? What did he come out with that was a known untruth ? Granted, not every single thing he said was bang on the money, but it’s with retrospect we say this. What, at the time, did he say that was a deliberate untruth ?

  9. Fred Bloggs says:

    Law and Order says:

    Brother Charlie? Really? If anyone can call a sociopath murderer brother they need to be institutionalized

    Woah, hang on there ! If your brother or sister committed murder, would you disown them ? If your close buddy killed someone in a horrible way, would you abandon them ?
    Now, maybe you would and no one would blame you for doing so. But it’s taking matters way too far to insult someone because they might have good feelings about someone you dislike. Some soldiers do horrific things in war. If they’re your friends or relatives or family, do you sever all ties with them ? And if you stick by them, even though you acknowledge their wrongdoing, how does that make you mentally ill and in need of incarceration ?

    Anyway, going back to the topic at hand, “Helter Skelter” is a good book !
    It’s chief strength is that it follows chronologically. From that point of view alone, it’s unbeatable.

  10. Fayez Abedaziz says:

    Fred Bloggs: I just read your comments and questions, so if I may, I will answer one for now and the rest later, in a day or two.
    But first, thanks for your comment to Law and Order about, you know, my ‘brother Charlie’
    reference. I think that Law and Order’ means well, as a defender of victims of crime.
    Anyway, for now, I’ll say that: In that month of July, I met Susan in Chatsworth and we spent time together. We ate, smoked a joint and, well, we made love. She was simply a real cute, fun and funny girl. I was twenty and that was a real nice time for me. I had already lived with hippies in Colorado, for a while and they were the real, sincere ones. Well, that’s enough about that, but as I only minutes ago replied to your latest comment on the page with, here at Cielo- Susan’s book, I mentioned where I explained in some length and depth my time with Susan. I didn’t go to Spahn, she kept asking me to. Hope the admin. here doesn’t mind, I put the site with Susan and I on a post I wrote- That is at rxstr.com I’ll be back here in a day or two, as I said, to answer the other questions you posed above. Thanks

  11. Fayez Abedaziz says:

    Good day Fred and all:
    It would appear that I am making an appearance here later than I’d said.
    prosecutor Bugliosi said that Linda Kasabian was the true “flower girl.” Meaning, judge, jury and media (the public)
    that, why, the girls here on trial are not, they were a weird cult.
    Bugliosi was saying things like that-half out of ignorance and the other half being deception.
    That, dear Linda was the good one there at Spahn. In other words look at her as all nice and rosy, this nice girl. Why…innocent, don’t y’all see?
    Ah, but…if they made her ‘do it,’ at Cielo and at Waverly, then why can’t we say that that applies to cute Susan? That she was there cause Charlie said go there, or come along, let’s go.
    And Bugliosi said,
    That, being a true flower girl, Linda meant well and so was a what..? a ‘peace’person?
    Come on, now.
    That idea thrown up (no pun intended, but fun) of the dear was far from real. A hippie, the real, honest one would not steal, would not trade girlfriend/boyfriends, and the last thing they would do is violence. Linda was part and parcel of both nights in terms, at least of the conspiracy charge. Yes, Susan blew it, she wanted to be loyal and to remain with and be with her family, that being our friends at Spahn and her fellow accused. What’r ya gonna do? Shiny, light hair Linda did not tell our friendly police a thing. She was brought back to L.A. and that was partly cause brother Charlie-RIP- said, come on back, girl.
    Bugliosi and his fellow prosecutors go on,
    that, Charlie controlled the three fun girls on trial and so, they were like robots.
    Then, he defamed pretty Susan by saying, “she’s the scariest one.” Now, was that nice?
    Then, Bugliosi said, well, see Charlie wanted to start mayhem in the cities and you know, that was gonna be between races. In other words, Bugs was saying, Charlie wants riots and there you will have division between races, blah, blah. So, be scared of Charlie.
    Bugliosi was playing the race/fear card at a time of riots and so on in American cities and so, dishonestly implying that Charlie was for all of that…so be scared of Charlie and the gang from Spahn. Implying that Charlie is a racist!
    Charlie was not a racist.
    See, Bugliosi was using fear and spinning some facts and news items, in certain ways, as I show above.
    Then, continuing to show, to prejudice the jury, that the girls on trial had sex and used drugs. The horrors! In America? Of the 60’s? In L.A.? In Hollyweird? No…you don’t say…
    Yes, by deception and implying, that is dishonest.
    Now, nice figure Susan was not an innocent babe in the Spahn or some other woods, but…at the Tate house she refused to attack, first Voytek, then later, Sharon. She hit Voytek several times on his leg after he grabbed at her, her hair, in his struggle to get away, after Tex shot Jay and Tex yelled at Susan to “kill him.” Susan just stood there and so, Votek had seen and heard enough, he staggered to the door. When Susan hit with that buck knife on Votek’s legs, that made small cuts into his pants. That may have been one of the reasons that, when the detectives found a buck knife in the sofa cushions, there was no blood on it.
    If I woulda known that in several weeks, Sadie was gonna be at Cielo and so on, I would have gone with her to Spahn to prevent that. Yeah, well, I know, how ya gonna predict the future. But when she and I were together, that was one of the nicest summer with a girl time of my life. She was funny, pretty and the whole time was, to a young guy, me, a wonderful day. Sometimes, in life, you stop and have thoughts and you say, ‘I don’t know…I just don’t know…’

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